Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Carol Berkin's "A Sovereign People"

Carol Berkin is the Presidential Professor of History Emerita at Baruch College and the Graduate Center, CUNY. Her many books include The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties, Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, and A Brilliant Solution: Inventing the American Constitution.

Berkin applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, A Sovereign People: The Crises of the 1790s and the Birth of American Nationalism, and reported the following:
Page 99 details the beginning of what came to be know as the Genet Affair. In 1793, President Washington issue a Proclamation of Neutrality in the war raging in Europe. But the new French minister, the zealous and highly undiplomatic Edmund Genet, quickly revealed that he had no intention of respecting this policy. His mission was clear: to turn the US into a satellite of France. In his long and bombastic letters to both Washington and Secretary of State Jefferson, the young Genet insisted on America’s moral and treaty obligations to advance French interests. He demanded that the federal government immediately make full payment of all loans incurred during the American Revolution. He then ran roughshod over American sovereignty, outfitting French privateers in American ports and setting up French admiralty courts in those ports to rule in favor of the refitting of any captured English vessels and the sale of their cargoes. Without Washington’s approval, he recruited American citizens to serve on those privateers and attempted to build an army of western Americans to invade Spanish Louisiana under the flag of France. His final insult to American sovereignty, to the Constitution, and to the President himself was to threaten to go over Washington's head with a direct appeal to the “people” if the administration did not accede to his every demand and approve his every action. Before the year was out, George Washington would issue his own demand; he called on the French government to immediately recall Edmund Genet.
My Book, The Movie: Wondrous Beauty.

The Page 99 Test: The Bill of Rights.

--Marshal Zeringue